The Minister of International Relations and Cooperation, Hon. Maite Nkoana-Mashabane, has successfully concluded her Working Visit to Hanoi, in the Socialist Republic of Vietnam, where she met the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mr Phạm Bình Minh.
The Vietnamese Foreign Affairs Minister last undertook a Working Visit to South Africa during August 2013. Minister Nkoana-Mashabane's visit coincided with South Africa's celebration of the centenary of OR Tambo, the most outstanding leader and diplomat who mobilised international solidarity against apartheid and contributed to shaping the vision of a post-apartheid democratic South Africa. Tambo led an ANC delegation to Vietnam in 1978 to learn from the Vietnamese experience in their struggle against French colonial domination and US occupation.
South Africa and Vietnam share strong historical bonds, which date back from the years of the struggle against apartheid. "It is a relationship that is based on solidarity, with solid bonds of friendship binding our two nations since the Bandung Conference in 1955", said Minister Nkoana-Mashabane. Formal diplomatic relations between South Africa and Vietnam were established on 22 December 1993.
Minister Nkoana-Mashabane and Minister Pham Binh discussed various ways of strengthening bilateral relations, including through expanding trade and investment between the two countries. They agreed on concluding pending agreements and memoranda of understanding to expand the formal framework of cooperation.
Currently, South Africa's main exports to Vietnam include live animals, vegetables, mineral products, iron and steel products, plastics and rubber. South Africa's top imports from Vietnam include machinery, footwear, textiles, vegetables, mineral products, toys and sports apparel.
The ministers also noted that trade between the two countries has grown from R18, 4 billion in 2015 to R20, 5 billion in 2016, making Vietnam South Africa's 2nd largest trading partner in the ASEAN region.
During the meeting, South Africa extended its appreciation to the role Vietnam is playing in contributing to skills development in South Africa through scholarships offered by the government of Vietnam to South African students in the Maritime Economy at the Maritime University in Hanoi. The two delegations agreed to explore possibilities of sponsoring more students, not only in Maritime Studies, but also in Shipbuilding and on Aquaculture, considering that Vietnam has expertise in both areas.
The two countries will celebrate the 25th anniversary of the establishment of their diplomatic relations in 2018. In celebrating this milestone, the two Ministers agreed to work together to advance the developmental agenda of the global South.
Department of International Relations and Cooperation